Fantasy Football Week 5: Advice for Your Roster
We're past the first quarter of the NFL season and just a little past that spot for fantasy seasons as well. Bye weeks are in full, annoying swing, and NFL players are telling us how little they care for our fantasy football nonsense.
For the record, tweeting your fantasy football frustrations at the actual players is one of the dumber things I've seen on social media. Get a grip, people.
That said, if you're struggling with a bunch of losses, make sure you don't panic. Take a careful look at your lineup and figure out where the weakness is. Then fix it.
Even an 0-4 team can turn things around if the owner doesn't panic.
Well, at least that's what the New York Giants are telling themselves.
As the season progresses, injuries will accumulate.
It's said that from the very first hit in practice, every player is hurt. Nobody plays healthy in the league.
Of course, there is being hurt and being hurt, and right about now, the latter is passing the former in terms of sheer numbers.
Jake Locker being out four to six weeks, per Ed Werder of ESPN, won't hurt many folks, though he had shaped up to be a solid bye-week fill-in over the last few weeks before the late hit from New York Jets defensive tackle Mo Wilkerson knocked him out.
Santonio Holmes is another player you might have written off—especially with his up-and-down season—but he could have been a useful play this week in a game where the Jets will have to throw to keep up with the Atlanta Falcons. His balky hamstring puts an end to that, however.
Also, if you were waiting for Malcom Floyd to return from his neck injury, you'll be waiting another year, as the team has placed him on injured reserve. It's a wise move, as you don't mess with a neck injury, but it's disappointing for fantasy owners considering he had started to catch some heat.
Meanwhile, C.J. Spiller was tagged with a "Did Not Participate" tag Tuesday, though BuffaloBills.com reported he had a light workout, and his ankle is clearly still an issue. Fred Jackson's knee is still hurting as well, though he is expected to go in Thursday night's game.
On the plus side, ESPN.com reports that Danny Amendola could play this weekend, which is good since the same article talks about Aaron Dobson's neck injury a little as well. It also mentions a possible—albeit not strong—chance Rob Gronkowski could be back as well.
As always, there's more injuries than there is time to write them all up, so check up on all your players well before the games kick off.
This Week's Bye Week Bench
One bye week down, way too many to go.
Though there are two more teams this week, there might actually be less players to worry about. Yes, Adrian Peterson will be missed, as will Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and, to a lesser extent, Pierre Garcon and Greg Jennings.
Unfortunately, you can almost make an argument that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already put Mike Williams, Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin on permanent bye, and the Pittsburgh Steelers' fantasy value as a team is somewhere south of the Bermuda Triangle.
|Week 4||Green Bay , Carolina|
|Week 5||Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington|
|Week 6||Atlanta, Miami|
|Week 7||Oakland, New Orleans|
|Week 8||Chicago, Tennessee, Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Houston|
|Week 9||Denver, Detroit, New York Giants, Arizona, San Francisco, Jacksonville|
|Week 10||Cleveland, Kansas City, New England, New York Jets|
|Week 11||Dallas, St. Louis|
|Week 12||Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle|
Blue Light Special Quarterback: Brian Hoyer vs. Buffalo Bills
I actually feel better about his Week 4 win over the Cincinnati Bengals than I do about Brian Hoyer's Week 3 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The 321 yards and trio of touchdowns were good, but turning the ball over three times worried me. Was Hoyer just able to get away with it because the Vikings defense has been playing down the last few weeks?
The Bengals have a much more potent defense than the Vikings do right now, and Hoyer actually looked better against them. He was more confident, and his passes were thrown with more authority.
He needs to stop throwing so flat-footed, though, and he has to have better clock control. Still, he otherwise looked like a starting NFL quarterback and put up decent fantasy numbers.
The Buffalo secondary is a bit banged up, and while the pass rush can be tough, Hoyer got better protection from the offensive line than we'd seen anyone get all year. He'll have time to find the likes of Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon, and it wouldn't shock me if he went out and didn't turn the ball over at all.
If Hoyer is on the waiver wire and you need help, grab him.
If he's on your bench and you're looking to replace Ben Roethlisberger or Robert Griffin III, you should have him in the lineup.
Three Other Bye Week Quarterback Matchups to Like
Maybe your main quarterback is sidelined this week or maybe you're just looking for a replacement for an underperforming guy but either way here are three more quarterbacks who have a good chance to perform above expectations this weekend.
Philip Rivers vs Oakland
With the exception of Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans, Philip Rivers has put fantastic fantasy points on the board for his owners and this week won't be an exception. We know these teams come to play every time they face each other so Oakland won't be a pushover, but Rivers has had some big games against them. He should sniff 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns and escape Oakland with no interceptions.
Terrelle Pryor vs San Diego
Yes, we're dipping into the same game twice today because while Terrelle Pryor does have his issues, he's played relatively well and looked more comfortable in the pocket against the Denver Broncos in Week 3 than he had previously. He'll keep improving and faces a defense which has been lit up nearly every week by opposing quarterbacks. San Diego has allowed 1,307 yards passing and eight touchdowns to quarterbacks. Meanwhile they've accumulated just one interception and nine sacks. Further, the Chargers have allowed eight passing touchdowns this year. Pryor will also be able to hurt them on the ground. Overall, this is a great week to have to start the Oakland quarterback.
Alex Smith vs Tennessee
The play of the Tennessee Titans has been one of the more pleasant and surprising stories of this young NFL season, but realistically speaking they are far from world beaters. Defensively, they rank 23rd against the pass, allowing a lot of yards. Alex Smith has been putting up some good numbers the last two games. With the exception of last week's Giants game, Smith has also been excellent protecting the ball with only a pair of interceptions, something which will be vital considering the Titans have generated five so far this year. Still, Smith has the weapons, has played well and the Chiefs are red hot right now. It's a good week to ride that wave.
Blue Light Special Running Back: Fred Jackson vs. Cleveland Browns
Lost in the attention given to EJ Manuel and the consternation fantasy owners have about banged up and unproductive C.J. Spiller is that fact that Fred Jackson is pretty darn good.
We wrote Jackson off during the preseason because Spiller looked great all summer and because Jackson seemed to be a non-factor at that time.
Jackson hasn't gone anywhere though and while Spiller's year isn't a disaster (though he is wildly under-producing compared to what you expected), Jackson has been the more consistent back.
Spiller also, as we mentioned on the injury page, is a little banged up and we're unclear as to the role he will play against the Browns.
The Browns aren't bad defensively and have held every back they've faced to under 100 yards, but they have allowed five ground touchdowns, though only three of them were to running backs.
Jackson may not reach 100 yards on the ground, but he should get a shot at a touchdown and could see extra yards in the pass game. He'll be a good bye-week fill-in this week.
Three Other Bye-Week Running Back Matchups to Like
Some of these are merely flex plays, but all three of these have the promise to put up some good bye-week points.
Eddie Lacy vs. Detroit
With Lacy coming off a concussion (but also a bye), some fantasy GMs might skip him, but he looked solid in Week 1 and was a critical part of the Green Bay Packers offense. That won't change, especially with everyone else banged up and the only other real option Johnathan Franklin.
The Detroit Lions are a middle-of-the-road run defense who also has seen one of the lowest ground plays run against them—which means they may not even be as good as the No. 20 ranking suggests.
Knowshon Moreno vs. Dallas
Montee Ball didn't see a single play in the first half of the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, only making an appearance when the game was out of Philadelphia's reach. Fumbles and inadequate pass-blocking is keeping him on the field, and Knowshon Moreno remains the starter.
Moreno has run well this year. And while the Denver Broncos' backfield is a bit of a murky mess and Ronnie Hillman could inject himself in at any time, Moreno has the right combination of ability running and catching the ball, as well as the ability to pass-block for Peyton Manning.
The Dallas Cowboys have been tough on running backs this season, but they'll have to spend more time going after the pass game than the ground game, so Moreno should find plenty of room to run and be a good bye week play.
LeGarrette Blount vs. Cincinnati
Consider this your "Hail Mary" for the week.
Blount has put up some nice flex points the last two games and seems to be a guy the New England Patriots are happy to use as a "finisher" either on a drive or to slim the clock down. He'll see some short-yardage work as well. With all the attention paid to the receivers and Tom Brady, Blount (and Stevan Ridley, of course) will see very few stacked fronts and should have some success.
There is risk here, of course, but as a flex option in a tight spot, Blount could be a good option.
Blue Light Special Wide Receiver: Keenan Allen vs. Oakland Raiders
Rookie Keenan Allen had his breakout game last week against Dallas last week and faces an Oakland Raiders defense which, while a bit stingy when it comes to touchdown, can be thrown on.
There is some hesitation about the idea of leaning too much on a guy with just one good game, but he has tremendous physical talent and the height and athleticism needed to be a nice red-zone target for Philip Rivers.
Allen's a great No. 3 or No. 4 receiver or a solid flex option if you need him.
Three Other Bye-Week Wide Receiver Matchups to Like
As with the other positions, some of the wide receivers here are better as flex options than true starters, but the matchups all have the potential to overshoot their mark as well.
Justin Blackmon vs. St. Louis
Fresh off a four-game suspension, Blackmon steps into a desperate situation. While the Jacksonville Jaguars are a walking disaster, he still has value.
Of course, it's not the best case to have to depend on whoever is throwing to Blackmon—this week is Blaine Gabbert, but who knows long-term—but he's a big target in a failing offense that needs to get the ball moving. He should serve as a good flex, maybe more in a point per reception league.
Jeremy Kerley vs. Atlanta
Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill may be out, in which case Kerley is going to be key to the offense and quarterback Geno Smith. This is a game where the Atlanta Falcons should put points on the board, even against a very good New York Jets defense. Smith has to throw to someone, and Kerley has some of the surest hands on the team.
A better fit in a point per reception league, Kerley could still end up putting quite a few yards up as the Jets try to hang with the high-flying Falcons passing offense.
Robert Woods vs. Cleveland
Stevie Johnson is listed as "probable," but he didn't look the same last week against the Baltimore Ravens and faces a tough matchup with cornerback Joe Haden likely to cover him. While that goes on, Woods should find himself open quite frequently; and if the offensive line can keep EJ Manuel upright, he is poised to have another very good day.
Three Tight End Matchups to Like
Kellen Winslow Jr. vs. Atlanta
As with Jeremy Kerley, Winslow could find himself getting more targets if Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes miss the game against Atlanta next Monday. Winslow has been a bit hit or miss this season, but he has proven himself to be a reliable weapon for rookie Geno Smith, and the Jets won't hesitate to pump up his targets if they are short players.
Jared Cook vs. Jacksonville
After a big first week, Jared Cook cooled off quite a bit. A lot of that might be the struggles of Sam Bradford and the lack of anyone to draw attention off of him, but even taking that out of the equation, he just hasn't looked as sharp as he did that one week.
Against Jacksonville, though, you can expect his numbers to go up again. Bradford should have plenty of time to find his options, and Cook should have no problem breaking coverage to make some catches.
Martellus Bennett vs. New Orleans
Bennett has gone two games without a touchdown, but last week he more than made up for it with a bunch of yards. This week, he should see the end zone as well. We know New Orleans and Drew Brees will throw the ball, and Jay Cutler will need to do likewise. While the Saints defense has played well, it isn't perfect, and Bennett is a matchup issue for them.
Three Team Defense Matchups to Like
St. Louis Rams vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Rams defense has been very disappointing this season both fantasy-wise and in reality. This week, the Rams face the hapless Jaguars, though, and you should see them have a bounce-back week. The Rams defense isn't as good as we'd hoped it would be, but this week, it will live up to the potential we all saw.
Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Jets
The simple fact is that Geno Smith is a rookie and he will turn the ball over. A lot, apparently. So Atlanta will bring pressure and force the rookie into mistakes. Atlanta's defense hasn't been a fantasy bonanza, but this week, it will have a shot at a big point total.
Cleveland Browns vs. Buffalo Bills
As with the Falcons and Geno Smith, the Browns will be in a position to take advantage of EJ Manuel's mistakes. There have been a few times when Manuel has been lucky and a turnover has been called back due to a penalty. However, this week, the Browns will generate a good pass rush and force Manuel into making some bad choices. Fantasy owners will be happy they put the Browns in their lineup.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.